Julius Randle hurt the Hawks on Monday night and is paving his way to Atlanta on March 7, the scheduled date of the All-Star Game.
Randle posted his Knicks-high 44 points, setting a career-high with 7 3-pointers as the Knicks won their third straight Monday, 123-112, over the Hawks at the fanless Garden.
Randle racked up his third game of 30 or more points extending his All-Star campaign and finished one point shy of his career high (set with New Orleans).
Randle hit a driving runner with 3:30 left and then his seventh 3-pointer to drive the lead to 112-107 and repel the Hawks’ comeback effort. Randle made 7 of 13 from 3 and was 14 of 22 overall. He was a career 28 percent 3-point shooter entering the season.
Appearing on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN radio before the game, Randle said an All-Star berth would mean “a lot, man. It’s definitely a goal I put down for me to accomplish when I got to the Knicks. It would be an amazing honor and mean a lot to me and my family. But I’m trying to keep the team first.’’
The All-Star voting from fans ends Tuesday.
“The most important thing is his impact on winning,” Thibodeau said. “Hopefully it will be recognized.”
The Knicks moved to 14-15 under their first-year coach Tom Thibodeau and have won five of seven games. After 29 games last season, the Knicks were 7-22.
“[Thibodeau’s] attention to detail is unbelievable,’’ said Randle, who had nine rebounds and five assists. “We go into games so prepared like every game is a playoff game. That’s how good he is. He’s a complete culture-changer for sure. He’s held everyone accountable. We’re all enjoying the process.”
One of the least productive 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, the Knicks banged in a season-high 17 3-pointers. RJ Barrett added 21 points and made two fourth-quarter 3-pointers.
The Knicks buried the Hawks in the first quarter, 39-28, but gave it all back — mostly from the free-throw line. They found themselves trailing by six in the third quarter.
Randle collected 17 points in the first quarter when he went 7 of 8 — 3 of 4 from 3-point range, continuing his outstanding season. In scoring 39 points in that opening quarter, the Knicks shot 68.2 percent — not too shabby for an offense ranked last in the league in points.